Taking things away is not innovation

At user number 708,134, I’m among the first 0.4 percent of Evernote users. A little more than three years ago, Evernote sent its users a thank you email on the occasion of its five-year anniversary. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much of early adopter I’d been of the note-saving service.

The email inspired me to redouble my efforts to master the Evernote service. I watched a number of tutorial videos, installed it on all my devices, learned my “Evernote email address” and leaned on it even more than I ever had before.

evernote-user-numberIn fact, Evernote has typically been among the first applications I’ve ever installed on a new computer, laptop or mobile device. I lean on it to save recipes, notes from work, photos, to-do lists and much more. I photograph business cards and save them in an Evernote notebook (and thanks to OCR technology, they become searchable).

I read material that might work in the “business of journalism” class I teach at Washington University in St. Louis — and easily save that material to Evernote for my later review.

So I was annoyed two weeks ago when another Evernote email announced it would be taking away features from its basic, free service — the one I’ve been using for eight years now.

EverNote-to-OneNote-FIIn a month, I was told, I would only be able to sync my notes on two devices, rather than the unlimited number I could before. I use the Evernote app on two computers, two tablets and my cellphone. It’s handy to have a recipe I saved on my laptop available on my cellphone when I’m at the grocery store.

Taking away features has been Evernote’s hamfisted way to try and to shove users into one of its premium tiers — either Plus, for $35 a year, or Premium, for $70. Not that long ago, Evernote took away the ability for basic users to forward emails into their Evernote account.

The truth is, I could afford the $35 for the Plus plan. I’m just not impressed with the way Evernote has made its basic service less attractive, rather making the premium services irresistible. So, I fired up my old Windows 7 machine so I could use Microsoft’s importer to save my Evernote files in OneNote.

Perhaps I’m cutting off my nose to spite my face. I’ll try out OneNote for awhile and see if that’s the case.